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Guide to Dining in Cape Town

Guide to Dining in Cape Town


Just a few of Cape Town's culinary destinations that we feel are definitely worth a visit! 

95 Keerom

Seriously stylish dining destination where old rubs shoulders with new (the restaurant building is one of the oldest in the city) and well-groomed waitrons see to a seemless experience.  Northern Italian cuisine is the focus here and Giorgio Nava's single-mindedness to keep things simple with the best quality produce he can lay his hands on, is exemplary - the fact that he has a fishing boat that catches the seafood specials and is farming organic produce is certainly testimony to this.  Special stars such as the risotto and the much-loved sliver-thin carpaccia with parmesan are the stars of the menu, while specials may include anything from oxtail to rabbit.  Superb Italian and local wines complement the quality experience.

Baia

This is a very lively, large restaurant catering largely to tourists and it gives them exactly what they'd expect from Cape Town: lots of tasty seafood and fish.  The many Polo-shirted waitrons are professional, well informed about the food and scurry about giving fast and efficient service.  Remember to book, though, as it gets very busy.  And, in summer, eat outside.  The wine list is excellent and features many of the top estates, as well as some interesting garagiste wines.

Brad's Grill

Ebullient Brad Steele has a winning formula here.  Rub shoulders with rowdy rugger buggers celebrating a win, Pringle-jersey-wearing southern suburbs families and local Harfield Villagers who can't do without their weekly fix of steak and chips and who make the most of the 'early bird' (in by six out by eight) dinner specials.  Some swear by the golden calamari and perfectly piquant tartare sauce, others wouldn't be seen dead not tucking into their favourite T-bone or perfectly marinated ladies fillet and their sauce choice.  You'll also find other hearty choices like ribs, a whole roasted chicken and a particularly tasty oxtail.  Expect old-school steakhouse accompaniments - you know the deal - giant onion rings (amongst the best in town), pumpkin mash and creamed spinach and, of course, perfectly crispy chips.  This wine list is small and offers something for every pocket and palate.

Bukhara

The rich aromas of spices hit you as you enter this large and popular South Indian restaurant.  Premium cuts of meat, poultry and vegetables are intricately flavoured with exotic spices and herbs.  Owner Sabi Sabharwal knows how to run a successful restaurant.  The menu never changes and diners keep coming back for more copper pot laden with creamy black lentils, tandoori lamb chops, butter chicken and lamb rogan josh.  The garlic naan bread is a must to mop up all the sauces.  An extensive wine list!

Catharina's

You almost smell the old money as you proceed up the driveway at Steenberg Estate.  Totally devoid of any nouveau pretension, this gorgeous dining room is just the place to celebrate a special occasion, or better still, just the fact of being alive, and in very safe culinary hands.  Standouts in an extensive and superb menu are the West Coast mussels in a fragrant coconut cream and green curry sauce, and the creme brulee medley of amarula, mint tea, vanilla and ginger, which is completely irresistible.  The superb wines of the estate are, of course, a feature here, as are others from this famous area.  Their bubbly is sensational.

Chapmans Peak Hotel

The landmark hotel on Chapmans Peak Drive has had a makeover.  The sundowner terrace, with stunning views over Hout Bay and the Sentinel, remains the same - with smart new table settings for al fresco fare.  The hands-on Portuguese family owners are so confident of the great ambience, seafood and views, they still don't take reservations.  Legions of regulars come back time and time again for a signature cast-iron pan of crumbed calamari in divine combos with line fish, praws, steak and frites.  They also serve a popular plate of lamb chops dusted with a spicy crust and seafood and prawn platters.  The hotel's extensive wine list offers good wines by the glass.

Constantia Uitsig

There are those who could do with a bit more of a buzz when they dine out but there will always be devotees who relish the quiet unassuming elegance of this Constantia landmark.  True, the menu really hasn't changed in aeons, which is perfect for guests who return time and time again for the likes of the superb tomato tart flecked with sea salt or scallops with black bean sauce.  Italian dishes and ingredients take centre stage with the subtlest tribute to Asia.  Choose from a healthy selection of varied pastas, wonderful fish offerings dressed with the lightest sauces and the likes of tripe, veal saltimbocca and the sirloin tagliata that never disappoints.  Old-school desserts with a twist like banana sticky toffee pudding with vanilla-pod ice cream prove that Frank Swainston and his superbly efficient team really do have it.  Excellent wine choices are befitting of this landmark restaurant's estate situation.

Emily's

Welcomed by the urbane owner Peter Veldsman, you will be royally entertained and served.  The food cooked by chef Johan Odendaal is rich and complicated and a mix of haute cuisine and local fresh ingredients and influences.  The prices are expensive but the food is worth it and there are not many places that deserve that accolade.  It is hard to choose from the menu as it is so appealing and nothing disappoints.  The saucing is special and the portions good.  Truffles and foie gras are in there with local game and fish.  Three courses might be a challenge, but do try.  Definately a place to celebrate a special occasion.  Award-winning wine list of top estate wines, extensive and well priced.  Wines are matched carefully to the food.

Five Flies

Housed in an elegant historic building near the courts, this restaurant choice is much loved by legal eagles and their well-heeled ilk.  Seafood gets great treatment here, whether in the form of the excellent salmon tartare with wasabi, soya and sushi rice or perfectly prepared line fish.  There are plenty of meaty mains for big eaters - always with tasty accompaniments and more often a heady sauce, often redolent with truffle or foie gras.  A penchant for interesting local produce, including Kalahari truffles, the freshest tuna or just picked procini, ensures diners are orally entertained.  Look out for their well-rounded wine list.

Harbour House

If you arrived when the boats come in, you might spot the chef buying the catch of the day from the fisherman on the quayside.  The Cape Cod interior - sleek white wood and minimalist decor - is the stage for a contemporary spin on seafood with picture-postcard views over False Bay.  Start with a signature prawn tian, salmon sandwich or spicy calamari, do a seafood platter, prawns or fresh line fish for mains.  Walk it all off on the harbour wall where local fisherman cast a line for the big fish.  Nice wine list, with lots to complement the fare.

Kitima

Within weeks of opening, Hout Bay locals gave up trying to keep the secret as word spread of this extraordinary restaurant.  Housed in a national monument, the interior has been lovingly restored and somehow manages to successfully combine original features with traditional Thai.  Once you've stopped gawking, settle down in the bar, wait for your table, and soak up an atmosphere that only a busy fine-dining establishment can deliver.  The food is remarkable in its freshness, presentation, and variety of tastes.  Whether your starter is a spring roll or sublime spicy soup, be prepared to find a different flavour with every bite or spoonful.  The curries have a rare ability to startle with their spices, but don't leave you gasping.  The steamed fish is delicate.  Add to this the stock dishes of seafood and poultry noodles, efficient and discreet service, and you have close to perfection in its class.  Before you leave, ask for the house cocktail.

La Colombe

Regulars will be pleased that the La Colombe standards are still as high as ever where the freshest seasonal produce, luxury ingredients and diligently thoughtful flavour combinations reign supreme.  Whether light, such as the jalousie of crab, cured salmon and horseradish cream, or hearty, such as the gloriously sticky truffle jus veal sweetbreads with cardamon cream emulsion, expect to savour every single flavourful forkful, willing each and every one not to be the last.  Sophisticated service that manages to leave out the pomp, good between-course sorbets and an outstanding wine list ensure this is still one of the best restaurants in the Cape.

Pastis

When a laid-back atmosphere and hearty fare with a hint of sophistication is what you're after, Pastis is ideal.  Modeling itself on a traditional French bistro, right down to the red and white checked tablecloths and strains of Francophone singers, croque-monsieurs do the trick for satisfying morning munchies while the vine covered trellis is ideal for sun-splashed afternoons and tucking into Provencal tomato tart.  Dinners see the space fill up with Constantia locals ordering anything from the popular French onion soup to seared tuna nicoise or a steak au poivre with masses of chips.  The dessert menu, including mango tarte tatin and a white and dark chocolate mousse, reiterates the tasty, rib-sticking fare theme.

Rick's Cafe

Rick's has it all: great bar, vibey staff and scrummy food.  Inspired by Rick's Cafe Americain in the film Casablanca, the decor is suitably Moroccan without overkill.  Comfy couches, wooden tables and two fireplaces complete the picture, with an upstairs deck for summer.  Tapas are a great way to start followed by a substantial burger or the line fish, which is always a good bet with tasty, crunchy veg. 

The Roundhouse

Camps Bay's second oldest building, the historic Roundhouse has been lovingly restored and is a Mother City favourite.  The focus is on "uncomplicated, contemporary French cuisine",  and the team at The Roundhouse restaurant aims to bring Capetonians a nostalgic dining experience that calls upon the history of the city in its former days of glory.

The Food Barn

This rustic restaurant housed in a thatched barn with thick stone walls and a wraparound farm stoep is hime for the renowned Franck Dangereux.  Inspired by local, seasonal ingredients, the famous author of Feast is wowing diners with an eclectic mix of Moroccan, French, Greek, Thai, Italian and Indian dishes served in the two-tier restaurant.  Intimate by candlelight on white linen tables by night, relaxed by day, he creates fabulous flavours with passion.  The wine list is small and focuses on local wine farms of the Constantia Valley.


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